Burlington Township Board of Education unanimously adopts 2017 budget

At the Wednesday, April 26, Board of Education meeting, the district adopted a two percent school tax levy.

The Burlington Township School District’s $67.12 million budget passed unanimously at the Wednesday, April 26 Board of Education meeting. Of the total budget, $43.93 will be raised through taxes, and the district has adopted a general fund tax levy increase of 2 percent.

For the average Burlington Township home valued at $234,510, school taxes will increase by $94.24 per year.

Superintendent Mary Ann Bell said the district was pleased to be able to avoid reductions in force and reallocate resources.

“The budget always focuses on trying to maintain our programs, [and] provide support for our struggling learners while being fiscally responsible,” Bell said.

Over the last few years, the district has worked to maintain class size, but looking forward, the district’s goal is reduce class sizes. Bell said the “lack of funding” from the state has made this goal particularly difficult.

Included in the budget is a part-time instructional staff position for a newly proposed television broadcast and production course to expand course offerings at the high school level. Additionally, the district plans to increase supplies and professional development to support Next Generation Science Standards.

Two assistant coaching positions that had been previously taken away are restored under the budget, for safety reasons. One general education elementary teacher will be moved to special education based on the district’s need and declining enrollment at the upper elementary level.

Bell said the district did not have to reduce any positions, but it will not be rehiring any staff who have left through attrition. The district is trying to avoid impacting services to students as much as possible, Bell said.

In an open letter to Burlington Township families regarding the budget, Bell and school district Administrator Nicholas Bice discussed the district’s advocacy efforts to take a stance against the district’s “chronic underfunding.” The district is underfunded by approximately $3 million, based on the state’s formula for school funding, and the district has not been restored to the state funding levels since the 2009–2010 budget.

“The reality of budgets in [New Jersey] today is that we have little chance to budget for the future,” Bell said. “We are capped on tax levy and fund balance. We approach every year carefully.”

Additional budget information is available on the district’s homepage at www.burltwpsch.org.